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The 4 Axes of a Leader

The 4 axes of a leader emerged from conversations in which I was trying to explain what a manager is not expected to do. The attempts to tell people that they should not split the work items, or distribute the work between the team members were leading to a lot of incomprehension.

With the help of a group of manager, we improved the definition of the aspects a manager should consider, by dividing the role in four axes:

  • People: Hiring, growing, managing performance, and self-improve,
  • Business: Understanding the business and the ecosystem the organization evolves in, understanding why we provide solutions, products, features, services and formulate a clear vision,
  • System: Understanding the system formed by the people, the organization, the processes, and tools, remove the obstacles to great work,
  • Execution: deliver the work!

I use the four-axes in coaching and mentoring sessions to foster conversation about the current focus the people currently have. The four-axes help people realize when they don’t invest at all in one or more of the axes.

I also asked them where on each axis the activities they are doing or other people are doing land. It is always interesting to have them describe what other people, especially the ones they admire, are doing.

I started that work with managers and realized working with individual contributors that it would apply exactly in the same way. As an individual contributor, if I am focused solely on execution, I am missing opportunities to increase my impact and satisfaction.

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